Darwin Slept Here: Discovery, Adventure, and Swimming Iguanas in Charles Darwin's South America - Eric Simons (2009)

Part III. DISCOVERY

FOLLOWING DARWIN ON THE WEST COAST

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Chapter 11. CHILOÉ

Charming Green Things That Don’t Ooze

In these shaded paths, it is absolutely necessary to make the whole road of logs of trees, such as described on the main road to Castro. Otherwise the ground is so damp from the suns rays never penetrating the evergreen foliage that n e ither man nor horse would be able to pass along

—BEAGLE DIARY, NOVEMBER 24, 1834

THE DAY AFTER CLIMBING CERRO TRES PICOS, I returned to Buenos Aires and from there flew back to California. My plan was to take a break from traveling, propose to my girlfriend, and then start researching the west coast of South America. In late spring, as I brushed up on Darwin’s travels, I found myself talking to an old school friend. Josh Braun was trapped in Manhattan at a high-hour, low-pay magazine job under the direction of your industry standard brilliant-but-mad editor-in-chief. When I left for Chile a few months later, Josh was on the plane with me. He’d packed a bag full of radio equipment and talked about his plans to record stories about South American monster legends. I was still trying to figure out how it had gotten to this point. Although I welcomed the company—my travels on the east coast had often been lonely—I worried about how well Josh would be able to follow my Darwin enthusiasm. At least he was there for all the right reasons: Fleeing a bashing-the-head-into-the-wall post-college job, looking to see some of the world before he committed to something serious like graduate school or marriage.

Josh was tall, gangly, and distinctively red-headed—a look that instantly proclaimed irredeemable gringo-ness. I had always escaped gringo alarm bells because I’m generally swarthy and have a decent Spanish accent. Five-foot-eight with brown skin and brown hair meant I could easily pass for Brazilian, and I enjoyed the obviously conflicted touts who looked me up and down and then tried catching my attention in Portuguese. With Josh there would be no sneaking about.

Still, standing out might not be bad. Darwin certainly did. Josh was also deeply scientifically curious, and he had never been to South America before. He read voraciously and could speak generally on almost any field of science, though his recent studies had been largely confined to medicine and bioethics. He remained one of the few non-NASA employees in the United States who passionately cared about the space program. It would be interesting to see how Darwinesque his response to the Chilean landscape would be. Plus, his father was a geologist, and so Josh knew a bit about rocks—and he was an enthusiastic hiker who wanted to decompress after a year in New York City. “I need to see green things that don’t ooze,” he told me, “and tall things that aren’t buildings.”

Southern Chile, with its abundant verdure, seemed to fit the bill. We decided to start in Chiloé, a rugged archipelago off the southern coast that someone had dubbed the “Ireland of South America.” Guidebooks and tourist literature also called it “The Magic Isle.” Darwin and the Beagle had visited after passing through Tierra del Fuego for the last time and proceeding north up the west coast. Chiloé was not their intended destination—FitzRoy wanted to skip most of Chile and head to the northern desert—but a series of gales forced him into port. “On leaving Tierra del Fuego,” Darwin noted wryly, “we congratulated ourselves too soon in having escaped the usual course of its storms.”

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Chile is a remarkably thin country, with one major international airport in Santiago, tucked between the Andes and the coastal mountains. We plotted to leave quickly for Chiloé soon after landing; although it’s clean and safe, Santiago is one of the least-interesting cities in South America, lacking the culture and food of Buenos Aires and the frenetic energy and distinct geology of Rio de Janeiro. “Of the town itself there is little to be said,” Darwin wrote in his journal.

On our first day, as we adjusted to the jet lag and the rapid-fire syllable-dropping Chilean Spanish, I prepped Josh for our trip to the south. After forcing him to try a pisco sour, the national drink made from pisco and raw egg, and dragging him up the highest hill in Santiago, I pronounced him fit for Darwin travel.

At 10 P.M. the next night, we waited in the pouring rain at the Santiago bus terminal. Overnight buses in South America resemble giant insects, with antennae-like mirrors hanging over lit headlight eyes and smiling grilles, and as our bus pulled up, rain swirling in every direction, I felt we’d entered a hive in some prehistoric swamp, a swamp from the time sixty-foot wasps ruled the earth. We boarded without incident but when we woke up the next morning, somewhere outside the town of Puerto Montt, the bus television was showing scenes of traffic carnage and severe flooding in the middle regions of Chile. Residents fleeing their houses in boats, cars stalled as water flowed around their bumpers, yellow-suited men in waders riding around in helicopters.

Where we were headed, we imagined, had to be worse. “I do not suppose any part of the world is so rainy,” Darwin wrote, “as the island of Chiloé.” He complained in a letter home that “Chiloé, from its climate is a miserable hole.” FitzRoy called surveying the archipelago just south of Chiloé “the survey of another Tierra del Fuego, a place swampy with rain, tormented by storms.” The ship’s Lieutenant Sulivan, less bothered or less literary than the other two, simply wrote in a letter, “It rained every day but one for six weeks, and most of the days never ceased raining.”

Early in the morning we arrived at the ferry that would take our bus across to the island. The weather had cleared up and stabilized. It was a beautiful ferry ride—half an hour across placid gray water—and we stood on the deck and looked out at the island’s dark green hills, dotted with white specks of houses, all of it delightfully pastoral and tranquil. So far, Josh seemed to be handling the culture shock well. He claimed to enjoy the food—hot dogs were the national dish—and other than a habit of smiling and blinking every time he tried to say thank you to someone, he was doing OK with the Spanish-for-non -Spanish-speakers. And as long as one of us spoke moderately well, most people reacted politely to our gringo-ness. Plus, Josh was genuinely excited about Chiloé. The island had a deep, fascinating mythology that he hoped to explore for his radio story. Best of all, when it rained here, it wasn’t somebody tossing out the contents of a bucket from an apartment two floors up.

When Darwin arrived in June—winter, the wettest time of year—the weather had been perfectly benign for three days, and he was as surprised as we were. He recalled “the inhabitants themselves wondering at such an event.” I asked the first person I could find, a shopkeeper in a small knick-knack store, about the unusual weather. “I had read,” I said, “that Chiloé was always raining.”

“Oh, it is,” he said, matter-of-factly. “Lucky right now. But it’ll rain tomorrow. Or tonight.” He thought for a minute. “Or,” he added, “both.”

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The bus dropped us in Ancud, in Darwin’s time the capital of Chiloé. Smoke rising from chimneys and metal stovepipes filled the air with the smell of burning wood and left a low lingering haze over the town. “Darwin wrote that the first dry day he was here, the ‘whole of Chiloé’ was out burning brush to clear land,” I recited to Josh as we walked downtown. Josh wrinkled his nose at the smoke and looked off into the shimmering, hazy distance, where there were supposed to be mountains visible on the mainland. “Well,” he said hesitantly, “I suppose that’s a nice parallel.”

The town boasted a small grid of streets and a ping-pong and pool hall at the top of the hill. “I don’t remember Jim Croce singing about ping-pong,” Josh joked as we walked by a group of slouching, cigarette-smoking teens loitering in front of the building. This was typical Josh: Obscure, super-smart jokes that referenced songs that no one had listened to in thirty years. We kept walking. At the northernmost waterfront edge of the town, we strolled through the Plaza de Armas, a small leafy square with statues of different creatures of Chilotan mythology. We wandered up a small hill and found a coffee shop called “The Enchantment of Chiloé,” where we ordered real coffee (a rarity in Nescafé-mad Chile) and watched as a pretty young waitress sashayed by while singing along, in stilted English, with the Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin duet “Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves.”

The “Enchantment of Chiloé” is a tourist draw: The island’s complex cast of folkloric characters had grown into a legend and spawned the “Magic Isle” moniker. But I wondered about it the same way I wondered about gaucho culture in Argentina. Was it something real? What was its historical basis? If twenty-something waitresses in coffee shops were serving espresso and watching VH1, how well had this leprechaun-and-Lucky-Charms-style mythology stuck?

“They are all Christians,” Darwin wrote of the Chilotans, “but it is said that they yet retain some strange superstitious ceremonies, and that they pretend to hold communication with the devil in certain caves.” He couldn’t find out more, though, because, he reported, anyone convicted of such worship was sent to the inquisition in Lima. Now, the particulars are quite in the open. The island’s belief system and tourism industry now proudly announce the virtues of Trauco, a troll-like creature whose ugliness makes him irresistible to women, and Fiura, his female counterpart (and, according to some versions, daughter). Fiura was supposedly just as ugly, but she was reported to have found a novel use for her bad breath; one huff and she’d overpower and sleep with any man she desired.

Curious to learn more about the mythology, and eager to find out whether people still believed it or just knew that it was good for scoring money off gullible tourists, we sought out the director of the regional history museum. Dutch-born archaeologist Marijke van Meurs referred us to Don Carlos Aguilar Cardenas, whose primary recommendation appeared to be that, unlike her, he was very old and had lived on the island most of his life. We found him out behind the museum, in a small stone tower with castle battlements, carving wooden ships with a chisel and chatting with a friend. Don Carlos—which, incidentally, is what Charles Darwin is often called in Spanish-speaking South America—was seventy-eight years old, gnarled and wrinkled, with one yellowed tooth poking out at a jaunty angle from his lower gum. His middle-aged friend, who introduced himself as Antonio Gia, seemed equally pleased to sit down and talk mythology with us.

We were lucky. The mythology doesn’t appear to have any defining textbook, meaning that the legend of characters like Trauco is related in stories. And we had our own oral historian. If only, I thought as he started up, he didn’t speak with such an absolutely indecipherable accent. A combination of every bad habit of Chilean Spanish and his own ruggedly shaped mouth meant that something like a third of his words never emerged into the world, and those that did came out in a kind of croaking blur, minus many of their most important consonants.

He emphasized Trauco, his favorite character. Short and squat, Trauco lived in forest caves and wore clothing made of dried straw. He was small, Don Carlos said, “but he had the strength of a Hercules.” A tourist had once come in and seen Don Carlos working on a block of wood with an axe and shrieked, “Trauco!” His face lit up at the memory. “The axe, you know, is also part of Trauco’s appearance,” Don Carlos explained.

Trauco’s mischievous trick was to impregnate single women. “Not so much now,” Antonio told us, “but twenty or thirty years ago, in the countryside, if a single woman got pregnant, they said Trauco did it.”

“Always, in jokes, we say that Trauco did it,” Don Carlos added.

“And what do people think now?”

Antonio answered, while Don Carlos nodded. “What’s happening now is that in the countryside, it’s almost equal to the town,” he said. “They used to be more reserved, that kind of thing. Now, everyone has a TV. Now everyone has a cell phone. Some have Internet. They’re losing the culture as a result.” He gave us an example: Even in the countryside, kids no longer listened to folkloric music. “They’re all listening to rock music,” he lamented. I thought back to our waitress in the coffee shop.

Don Carlos agreed. “Before, the people in the countryside, the ceremonies, everything was ceremonial and respectful,” he said. “When you visited a place in the countryside, they attended to you like a king, like a prince.” He paused for a minute. “Today, no. Today, nothing distinguishes the countryside from the city.”

While mourning their lost traditions, Don Carlos and Antonio were also essentially describing the rural Chiloé that Darwin visited. An 1832 census counted 42,000 people in an area of nearly 3,500 square miles. Thick forest blanketed much of the land. “The country generally is only inhabited round the shores of the creeks & Bays,” Darwin wrote, “the road by the coast is in some places so bad that many houses have scarcely any communication with others excepting by boats.”

Darwin saw the island’s inhabitants as impoverished. Though they lived surrounded by food and had adequate clothing and plenty of firewood, they could scarcely afford European luxuries like sugar, gunpowder, tobacco, or accurate timepieces. In the margin of his journal, he wrote with astonishment, “No Watch or Clock, strike the Bell by guess!” He also recorded his distaste in a line bound to give anyone reading his journal today whiplash: “Besides the Climate, it is disagreeable to see so much poverty & discontent. Poverty is a rare sight in S. America.”

Poverty, the Dickensian kind Darwin would have known from London, is an all-too-common sight in modern South America, so much so that in places squalor has become a tourist draw. The slum tours, though, are mostly an urban phenomenon. In countryside areas like Chiloé, poverty had not yet acquired the glamour it had taken on in Rio de Janeiro.

Certainly, the farmers of Chiloé were still poor, and many of them lived off the land, or, more accurately, the sea. Van Meurs, the history museum director, told us that modernization had brought new and different jobs in the trinket shops and supermarkets of Ancud, but that it hadn’t changed the basic culture. “People still maintain their ties with the land. They haven’t lost their contact with the environment,” she said. “Everyone goes fishing. The man who works at the market, he works a lot but everyone knows when he gets off he’s going fishing.”

Chilotans have lived off seafood since Darwin’s time. Darwin specifically mentioned their corrales, underwater hedges used to trap fish at low tide, although Don Carlos told us that modernized fishing techniques have mostly eliminated the traps. As Josh and I passed along the shore at low tide we saw colorful yellow-and-red fishing boats resting on the sand, waiting for a high tide to come and float them. Chiloé didn’t seem to have much of a commercial fleet, just a collection of small sixteen-foot wood-plank private boats, to be used whenever someone got hungry. Don Carlos had spent nearly ten minutes explaining to us how to make the island’s specialty food, so after visiting the museum we went to sample curanto, a dish of mussels, clams, potato-and-flour cakes, and small slices of pork. We chose a restaurant overlooking the wharf, on a street painted by Martens in 1834. He had captured a dirt street and two-story wooden houses; now, convenience stores, restaurants, and a Goodyear tire shop, mostly built with concrete and corrugated metal, lined the paved route. I ordered the curanto and Josh ordered a salmon ceviche. “I think we’re basically breaking the first two huge rules of eating abroad,” Josh said as the waiter brought out my steaming plate of shellfish. “Mussels and raw fish—it could be a long night.”

It wasn’t. Soothed by the rhythm of a torrential downpour on our tin roof, we went to sleep early and woke up the next morning refreshed and ready for a hike.

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On their first trip to the island, after a few weeks in Ancud, the Beagle’s crew had seen enough of winter in Chiloé. On July 13, the ship weighed anchor and tried to beat its way out into the Pacific against a rough swell. “We were all glad to leave Chiloé; at the time of year nothing but an amphibious animal could tolerate the climate,” Darwin wrote in his diary. But, characteristically optimistic, he looked forward to returning: “In summer, when we return, I dare say Chiloé will wear a more cheerful look.”

He proved prophetic. When the Beagle returned in November, “the island wore quite a pleasing aspect, with the sun shining brightly on the patches of cleared ground & dusky green woods.” After two months of survey work around the islands, Darwin set off on a trip to the rain-battered west coast of Chiloé, riding for Cucao, then and now the only inhabited part of the island’s west coast. Josh and I trailed along on an early morning bus. It rattled along on a winding gravel road, bumping past farmhouses and fields. We passed a massive commercial salmon farming operation called “Salmon Net” and then along the shore of a large lake.

A long cement bridge connected Cucao with the road to the rest of the island. A few closed-and-shuttered restaurants, including one called the “Darwin Rest Stop” were scattered around the entrance to the Chiloé National Park, which covered much of the coastline between Cucao and Ancud to the north. Josh and I hopped off at the park headquarters and hiked out toward the ocean, crossing a stile over a barbed-wire fence.

As we walked, the thick, dark forest faded into a series of sloping gray dunes dotted with scrubby low bushes and reedy, tough clumps of grass. Heavy clouds took most of the color out of the vegetation, rendering everything in shades of gray. The weather seemed indecisive, unsure whether to rain or not, overcast skies misting and dripping but never pouring or drying up. I mentioned this to Josh and he disagreed. “It looks pretty decidedly overcast to me,” he grumbled.

I didn’t expect much of a welcome from the water. Darwin had written of the “terrible surf ” which on stormy days could be heard at night from Castro, twenty miles away. Arriving where we now walked, he rode north a l i ttle and then abandoned the pursuit in the face of impenetrable forest and rugged coastline, “fronted by many breakers on which the sea is eternally roaring.”

The dunes reached back about a quarter of a mile from the beach, and Josh and I stumbled across the hard black sand. Bits and pieces of trail wound through the sparse vegetation and dipped into swampy puddles in the low areas. The flat spots in the dunes stretched off in a shallow valley that had the style of post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland paintings. Stunted, blackened plants curled over like burned stumps amid the wind-swept sand and a few large, drab-olive plants that looked like four-foot-wide maple leafs growing out of the ground. For Darwin, this would have felt like reaching the end of the world again, yet another place like Tierra del Fuego or the rainforest to reinforce how far he was from England. For us, still only four days removed from home, and an hour-long bus ride from pizza restaurants and Internet cafés, it felt a little different.

When you’re traveling, sometimes you want so badly for your own trip to fit into everyone else’s trip. Josh and I wanted the Chiloé National Park to feel foreign and lost and isolated, the way it had for Darwin. We wanted the Magic Isle to show up and earn its title. Darwin wanted Patagonia to feel vast and romantic and exciting, the way it seemingly had for other travelers. Well, you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes it takes a while to sort out your own mind, as it did for Darwin in Patagonia. Sometimes, modern life just hoofs right up and moos in your face, as it promptly did to Josh and me.

After a last small rise in the dunes, the beach sprawled out in front of us, a long sandy crescent stretching off into a cloud of spray flying off the backs of the breakers. Tugged by a serious rip current, the tidal zone frothed in a confused, seething jumble of foam. I poked around at the top of the dunes, analyzing the currents and the waves and the types of breaks. Josh interrupted my contemplation. “Say,” he said. “Are those cows?”

I looked in his direction and saw him crouching, sneaking up on a brown and white heifer for a picture. The cow was standing, looking moodily at Josh and slowly masticating a bit of sandy grass. “What are cows doing on the beach?” I yelled back. “Are they actually eating this stuff?” I kicked the stiff, reedy grass, which brushed off my boots and refused to be trampled. Josh ignored me. He had spotted a solo cow trudging down the beach and chased after it to get that perfect, paradisiacal vacation shot of hoof prints in the sand on a lonely beach. The cow obliged by walking slowly, swaying a bit from side to side as if lovesick and distracted. I trailed along, noticing more cows concealed behind every dune. Sometimes they reared up out of nowhere, hidden perfectly by the shifting sands and camouflaged by the gray landscape. It was entirely, completely ridiculous.

So much for isolation and magic in this corner of the island, I thought. One myth of Chiloé deflated.

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We tried again the next day. Josh was eager to visit a small town on the opposite shore of Chiloe called Quicaví. Supposedly this was the headquarters of a cabal of witches. How the witches fit into the rest of the island’s mythology was never made entirely clear to us; they weren’t exactly a part of the strange creatures stories—after Trauco and Fiura, witches just sound so . . . normal—but then, they weren’t exactly separate. Some books blended the two, claiming that the witches used another Chilotan legend, a ghost pirate ship known as Caleuche, as their chariot. Don Carlos attempted to explain it to us by saying that people in different parts of the island celebrated different things, which ended up sounding like people just kind of told stories of whatever personal superstition they felt like telling. “Go to Quicaví and ask them about Trauco!” he said. “They don’t know!”

But they did have the witches. Bruce Chatwin, the author of In Patagonia, reported staying in a hotel in Rio Gallegos that was full of workers from Chiloé, and they told him all about it. Chatwin said there was a group of witches called the Recta Provincia, dedicated to hurting ordinary people. They had two main offices, in Buenos Aires and Santiago, but smaller regional offices (I’m paraphrasing a bit here) scattered around the countryside, including the cave in Quicaví. It wasn’t easy to visit, though. “Any visitor to it suffers thereafter from temporary amnesia,” Chatwin wrote. “If he happens to be literate, he loses his hands and the ability to write.”

(Obviously, we didn’t make it all the way.)

In fact, we hitched a ride to Quicaví, walked up to the first house we found, knocked on the door, asked the matronly woman who answered about the cave, and were immediately stymied.

“You can’t get there anymore,” the woman said. “It’s caved in.”

“Is there anyone around town we can talk to?”

She directed us to find an unpainted two-story house and ask for the retired schoolteacher who lived there. We thanked her, walked across the street, and found the house as described. Another old woman answered the door, and when we told her about our quest, invited us into the living room. She sat us down, poured us two cups of orange Fanta, brought us cookies, and told us to wait while she fetched her husband.

Marcelo Marcias emerged a few moments later and sat down opposite us at a wooden table. As he introduced himself I realized that while I had thought Don Carlos and Antonio’s accents were difficult, they had actually been models of enunciation and clarity compared to this more rural Chilotan accent. If languages are digital things, with distinct words, then the best way I can describe Marcelo Marcias’ language is to say that he spoke in analog. I asked him about the witches, and although I missed much of his answer, I did understand one important line.

“The people who told those stories have died,” he said.

In 1883, Marcias said, the mayor of Chiloé conducted a good old-fashioned witch-hunt. Witches were identified by their neighbors, and the mayor “killed all the witches.”

“And what about the cave? People have told us it doesn’t exist.”

Seguramenteenestamomentono,” he said, which I think translates to, “Nope.”

Marcias said he thought he had an idea where the cave might have been, and when we looked later, we found newspaper articles that claimed to know of a cave, if not the cave. But even that cave was off-limits now, separated from Quicaví by a treacherous ravine and a washed-out road.

I asked Marcias if he thought the witches still existed.

“Oh, yes, they exist,” he said.

“So what would happen,” I asked, “if the witches met Trauco?”

“Oh, that’s not very likely,” he said. “The witches have far more power. Trauco is weak.”

At night, he said, people would see lights out on the water—the lights of Caleuche ferrying witches around. Josh and I didn’t plan to stay the night to look for lights on the water. “So the mystery of the witches remains,” he said later. “I sort of like it better that way.”

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Before we left, we went to visit one last trail: The Senda Darwin, a small biological station on the north shore of the island. The morning dawned beautifully. A full rainbow spanned the green fields, and a second half-rainbow stretched up behind it. We could see right to the end of both. “There’s no pot of gold,” Josh later declared. “That’s another capitalist lie.”

We found a ranger, Emer Mencilla Díaz, standing out front of a small visitor’s center. He invited us in, and the second we crossed the threshold it started pouring outside, drumming on the windows and roof and splashing up from puddles in the mud.

“Is it like this all the time with the weather?” I asked. “A little sun, a little rain?”

“Yes.” Emer paused, smiled, and corrected himself. “Well, a lot of rain, a little sun.”

We looked outside. The sun had come out, but the rain still fell. A small flock of sheep across from the visitor’s center had turned black about halfway down their coats from the mud. At this point, they looked rather as if they had turned white from the necks up. Emer told us that the station used to be a study spot for biologists with an office in Santiago but that eventually they had decided it would be more convenient to just move in—so they bought the land and named it after Darwin.

He offered, when the rain cleared, to take us along the Darwin trail. Like Don Carlos, Emer was a lifelong resident who liked talking about the island’s history. But instead of mythology, his preferred topic was island ecology.

“It’s changed a lot, of course,” Emer said. He told us he had been born in Quellón, on the very southern tip of the island, and seen firsthand the changes. In particular, he said, logging and burning had erased the once-forested face of Chiloé, transforming it into pastureland and open space, while salmon farms had polluted the water. “It destroys everything we have,” he said. “But for some people a lot of money means the environment isn’t important.”

He looked outside. The clouds had moved on, leaving the sun shimmering on the water leaking out of the saturated ground. He invited us to come along and walk the Darwin trail.

“Tourism people are always fighting,” he said, putting on a coat. “ ‘Darwin passed through here,’ ‘No, through here.’ One old man is absolutely sure he had Darwin’s footprint. This part here, the elders say there was a trail here, so this is where Darwin went.” We walked along a ridge, with the scientists’ guesthouse on the right and a shallow, heavily forested canyon on the left.

Emer led us past a farmhouse where he told us biologists test different kinds of seeds to see how quickly they grow. We slopped along through the mud and clipped grass, Josh battling away thorn bushes with inch-long auburn thorns that stuck to his pants. We took a turn into the forest. “It’s really difficult to walk through the forest when there’s no trail,” Emer said as we plunged into ferns and bamboo. “Very difficult.”

Emer walked up front with his hands raised to push spider webs out of the way. He occasionally dove into the forest to retrieve some bit of moss or leaf or spider to bring back and show us. As I watched Emer leap into one of the shin-high puddles in search of a kind of streaming algae-like thing he identified as pompón, I felt a happy kinship with Darwin: Exploring a strange new world with a friendly local guide, wondering about the environment, and diving into puddles with reckless disregard for personal dryness in search of an interesting plant specimen.

Darwin was, like all his shipmates, happy to leave the wet and cold. “I believe every one is glad to say farewell to Chiloé,” he wrote in his journal. But he didn’t give up on a place that easily, and he finished off with a more upbeat view: “Yet if we forget the gloom & ceaseless rain of winter, Chiloé might pass for a charming island.”

As Josh and I stood on the ferry that afternoon, looking back over the island shining in the sun, and the rainbows scattered across the sky, and the peaks of the distant, snow-covered mountains, it was hard not to feel a bit reluctant about leaving.

Finally. Score one for the Magic Isle.

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